At Toyota, IoT and Falling in Love Again

The internet of things isn’t just about sensors and big data. For Toyota, it’s also about reshaping mobility in all its forms through vision, connectivity, and services designed to delight end users.

At Toyota, we are all about mobility. I’m not talking just about car ownership. Mobility also includes public transportation, ride-sharing, hoverboards, walking—anything that can get people from place A to place B more efficiently and safely. Mobility is truly multimodal.

Toyota sees the internet of things (IoT) as an enabler of mobility, and we are moving very quickly to embrace its potential. Big data generated by sensors located throughout our cars will help engineers develop automobiles that think for themselves. Likewise, Dr. Gill Pratt, CEO of the Toyota Research Institute (TRI), and other researchers at TRI will leverage IoT data to advance the science of “intelligent” cars as we move into the future mobility of autonomous vehicles. Progress in these areas will likely deliver autonomous connected cars that are reliable, safe, and fun to drive. What’s more, the benefits these innovations may eventually provide to everyday drivers, drivers with special needs, and seniors could be life-enabling.

Toyota is no stranger to connected-vehicle technologies. Lexus began offering connected vehicles in 2001; today, all Lexus vehicles are connected, which enables services like Destination Assist, which links drivers to live agents who can provide directions for getting from point A to point B. Lexus also offers sensor-driven “car health” reports on current tire pressure, oil levels, and maintenance needs.

These IoT applications are just the beginning. Sensors are so small that we can place them virtually everywhere on cars. And what if you extend the same sensor technologies that monitor tires and brakes to the machines used to build vehicles on the manufacturing floor? These sensors could alert production leaders to a problem at a particular station where parts manufactured within a specific time frame may have to be rebuilt.

As for new offerings, it’s sometimes hard for companies to wrap their heads around the value of data. For example, early on, everyone assumed consumers wanted apps in cars. Very quickly, the auto industry realized that what customers actually wanted was for apps on their phones that work in their cars. Across industries and sectors, strategists, designers, and decision-makers typically believe current approaches and systems are just fine. It takes vision—and a considerable amount of courage—to break with the way things have been done for the last 100 years and embrace some exotic technology that promises to deliver new opportunities.

But in this era of historic technological innovation, all companies must work aggressively to reinvent themselves by embracing new opportunities and compelling visions of the future. This is exactly what Toyota is doing with IoT and mobility.

I’m a car guy. In high school, I loved working under the hood of my car, which was the embodiment of leading-edge technology at that point in my life. For the last 15 years, we amateur mechanics have been distracted by other mechanical wonders—the kind everyone now spends their days staring at and speaking into. That’s about to change. Connectivity and cool new services are going to make cars come alive. All those people who’ve developed relationships with their smartphones are about to fall in love with cars all over again.

—by Sandy Lobenstein, vice president, Connected Services and Product Planning, Toyota Motor North America, and executive vice president, Business Development and Strategy, Toyota Connected

-Article published on Deloitte WSJ

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